Oakley… Style, performance and function.

Written by Giordano Piccolotto, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team Member (he’s the guy seen above on the right)

Oakley , the name is synonymous with quality athletic eyewear. I remember being a kid and seeing Andre Agassi with those original Oakley sunglasses and thinking they were the coolest looking shades around. Well Oakley has never deviated from it stylish roots and continues to this day to deliver awesome looking glasses that are still top notch when it come to athletic design as well.

This year the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDog Race Team has been lucky enough to partner with Oakley, something that a lot of us were excited about. I chose to go with the “ Racing Jacket ”, renamed this year from “Jawbone”. A few of the racers received their orders in time for this year’s Ontario Cup Provincial Championships. I was one of them and looked forward to seeing how they preformed. I’ll skip to the conclusion now.

I was impressed.

I’ll let you know I’m a new user of contact lenses and I am still getting used to them so my eyes are prone to feeling dry. A cyclist’s glasses are used as much for keeping the wind out of their eyes as the sun. Compounded with the issue of contact lenses drying out in the wind I was curious to see how the Oakleys would fare. They didn’t disappoint. Even with the vented lenses I found them keeping almost all the wind out and a great deal of water too. I forgot to mention the Provincial Race this year was nothing short of epic, taking place during a lightning ridden, torrential downpour. Add in a big climb and a long, fast descent in the wind and you’ve got the ultimate testing ground for cycling eyewear.

With the race starting in the bright sun I found that the lenses did a great job of keeping the sun’s glare to a minimum while adding a lot of contrast, impressively so. Note; I was using the VR28 Blue Iridium lenses. Once the rain started it came down hard. I was surprised at how well the Oakleys kept the water out, not that I thought they would fail, I just didn’t think any glasses would help through that kind of rain.

The Oakleys performed better than expected. At certain points they did become unusable though, the water whipping off riders wheels as we descended coupled with what was coming down from the sky rendered me sightless at times, I don’t blame the glasses though, that’s all on Mother Nature. I seriously doubt anything would have been able to cut through all that rain and splash. All of this being said, the water was not entering my eyes at all, something I was certain would eventually happen. I should also point out that Oakley sells a hydrophobic coating that can be applied to their lenses. I didn’t have a chance to try this out but I’m betting that it would have proved useful.

So far the glasses have done really well on all fronts; great light reduction and contrast, superb protection from the wind, and better than expected performance in the rain. I’m happy. Then there are the little things. They’re feather light, not that it really matters in the end, but you don’t even feel them when you have them on, and that’s not an exaggeration, it’s actually kind of cool. The material used for the frame constructions is pretty incredible too; it’s super pliable and bends back into shape immediately. The arms snap off to ensure that they won’t break and are easily snapped back into place. And all of the rubber nose and ear pieces are made of a special compound that becomes stickier when it comes into contact with sweat. Oakley has been really thorough in its design process. Everything is well thought out and very functional with all the details being paid attention too. On top of this, they’ve made the glasses totally customizable. You can pop out your current “O” icons and pop in a different colour. And the lenses are completely interchangeable; one of the main features of the “Racing Jacket”, and it’s very easy to do (they come with two lenses btw). You can switch out your ear socks for new ones if they wear out or if you just want a new style. I’ve already started adding splashes of white to my glasses and think they look even better than they did before.

All in all I’m seriously impressed with these glasses on all fronts. Oakleys may be a bit pricey but after wearing mine for the last few days I’d be willing to pay for them over again.

Chapeaux Oakley.

Photo credit: Peter Kraiker, Studio f-Stop

Racing the Provincials Road Race

Written by Edmond Mellina, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team Member.

The Provincials at the Holland Marsh was the last race on my road racing calendar for 2012. I had designed my training plan to bring me there with a second peak of form. Everything was going according to plan… until I got hit by a nasty bronchitis with less than two weeks to go. The doc put me on a 10-day regimen of antibiotics. The good news was that I would finish the treatment the day before the race, which hopefully would mean clean lungs to tackle the hills of the Holland March. I told myself there was nothing else I could do apart from getting as much sleep as possible, eating well and staying hydrated. At least I should have fresh legs.

The evening before the race I sorted the registration list on OCA’s website by team. The conclusion was clear: I could forget about the squads / competitors on which I keep a close tab when I race in M2. Indeed, the sorted list showed two large M1 squads: Wheels of Bloor and Sound Solutions. I knew there both were top teams. Since I didn’t know their strong men, I checked the latest O-Cup Master 1 standings as well as the results of the Master B Nationals in early July. I wrote down five names: Robert D’Amico, Ian Scott, Wieslaw Matuszcak and Chris Firek of Wheels of Bloor; and Chris Wood of Sound Solutions. I printed the headshots of the Wheels of Bloor guys (I found their racer profiles on their team’s website).

Given the hilly course and the fact this was a championship, I expected a hard race of attrition with a key move during the last three laps. At least one of my five-guys-to-watch should be in that move. So my strategy was simple: save as much energy as possible during the first five laps, stay near the front, move up for the last three laps, watch these five guys very closely, and try to go with the first one who makes a move.

I went to bed with mixed feelings: not sure I would have my legs given the antibiotics; but nevertheless confident I had done my homework in preparation for the race! Before falling asleep, I looked again at the headshots of the Wheels of Bloor guys to memorize the faces.

When I arrived on the circuit, the first thing I saw was fellow LapDogs racer Julie Marceau powering pass the finish line. She was leading a two-woman breakaway. I shouted some encouragement in French (“Allez Julie, vas-y!!!”). Given the gap they had on the peloton, I thought that Julie was on her way to collect a new championship jersey. I decided this was a good sign for all of us Lapdogs. At the signing table, I took the time to write down on my left arm the BIB numbers of the five guys I had decided to watch. The nice ladies handing out the BIBs must have thought: “What’s wrong with this guy?” In the parking lot, I recognized Wheels of Bloor’s Matuszak – thanks to the headshots I had memorized the night before!

Two other LapDogs were in the race: fellow M2 Roderick Grant and M1 racer Lorne Anderson. Unfortunately, we were unable to warm up together because the start time was fast approaching. As I completed my warm-up routine, I saw Julie who confirmed she was the Provincial Champion!!! Since she was going to take care of the feed zone for me, I told her she could find my bottles under the trunk of my car.

I went straight to the start line and positioned myself on the second row. I looked at the BIB numbers around me and was able to quickly spot the five racers I had decided to watch. In order to recognize them more easily during the race, I took note of the brand of their bikes, the colour of their shoes / socks and the shape of their legs. I was ready to go.

The race started at a good pace. As we climbed the steep hill for the first time, I did a quick check of my body: lungs were fine; legs not super, but not bad either. I had a brief chat with Roderick and Lorne. But as we reached the top of the hill the pace picked up so we had to focus on the wheels ahead. By lap four, I was finally able to move up near the very front – close enough to see a breakaway starting to form. I got concerned when I realized several teams were represented. I could see black jerseys – the colour of Wheels of Bloor! I spotted two of my five-guys-to-watch around me, but not the other ones. Were they in the nascent breakaway ahead? If such was the case, then I was missing the key move. Gasp!..

At that time the gap was only about 100 meters. So I decided to jump to try to bridge to the breakaway. I looked behind my armpit and saw that the peloton had not had any problem catching my slipstream. In an attempt to shake the racer on my wheel, I jumped again while moving quickly to the other side of our half-road. It didn’t work. I decided there was no point in pulling the peloton any further. Fortunately, during the next lap the bunch was able reel back in the breakaway. Phew…

Suddenly, as we started climbing the steep hill for the fifth time, I felt very hot. What was wrong with me? It was not a food or fluid intake issue. Indeed, I had been eating and drinking very well up to that point. Furthermore, I had the benefit of cold bottles: I had followed a friend’s advice by putting all my bottles in the freezer overnight. As we reached the top of the hill, a massive thunderstorm burst. There was nothing wrong with me, the humidity was simply at its maximum before the storm.

A few minutes later, the commissaire on the motorcycle drove up the peloton to tell us the race would be stopped at the end of that lap. So we rolled to the finish and stopped at the line. Another commissaire explained we would have a minimum of 30 minutes delay before the race resumed; and he strongly advised all of us to move away from the finish line: we were in front of the lightning-loving metallic structure used by the race announcer!!!

By then, we were drenched and starting to get cold! I took refuge under the Morning Glory tent (we didn’t bring our own tent that day!). Roderick was there too. He explained to me that him and Lorne had a technical problem: they could not brake anymore. They had opted for carbon wheels with carbon-specific brake pads – perfect for this hilly circuit in dry condition, but totally ill-suited to the same circuit under torrential rain!! I offered to go pick up my spare aluminium wheelset from the neutral car. But since the brake pads were not compatible with aluminum rims, my solution was not viable.

I got colder and colder. As I watched other racers keep warm on their home trainers under their tents I wished I had brought mine (I prefer to warm up on the road; the forecast was clearly saying no rain during warm up; and frankly I didn’t expect the commissaires to have to stop the race. Lesson learnt…). At that point I was so cold that I left the tent to go to the car. As I was about to get inside I heard the announcer say: “Racers, the race will resume in five minutes”!!!

Everyone was rushing back to the start line. I got there two minutes before the new start. The commissaire shouted a long series of BIB numbers, explaining these were folks who had fallen behind the peloton before the race was stopped and therefore would not be allowed to start again. I looked around to spot Roderick and Lorne, but I didn’t see them. I concluded they couldn’t resume the race given the wet roads and their equipment. I felt sad for them.

The commissaire told us we would just do two laps as opposed to the three laps that were officially remaining. He gave the new start. Right away a two-man breakaway formed. I had started in second row but with the yellow line rule and teammates of the attackers blocking, there was no space to try to join them.

I noticed the road was still quite wet. As we entered the first corner a Vinyl Bilt guy went down. As we got out of the corner, a Morning Glory racer did the same. We were going full gas and I was not cold anymore. I asked one of the Wheels of Bloor guy whether one of the two guys ahead was from their team, which he confirmed. I tried to move closer to the front but I couldn’t. With the yellow line rule, there was simply no space. A couple of guys tried to be smarter by passing from the other side of the line but the commissaire on motorcycle disqualified them right away. This kept everyone on the right side of the law!

We passed the finish line again and heard the bell – last lap. As we approached the first (right) corner, the bunch moved left in one big wave to cut across the apex of the turn. The Morning Glory racer immediately to my right decided it was the perfect opportunity: he jumped straight to the front of the peloton from the right. Remembering how the bike reacts in the tricky conditions of cyclocross, I thought: “With that speed there is no way he is going to make that corner on such a wet surface”. For a split second, I thought he was going to prove me wrong. But then his bike disappeared from under him and he hit the pavement quite hard. Things were starting to get pretty hectic. We were now descending at full speed. As we started to climb again, we could see the two breakaway companions just ahead. We caught them on the steep hill. With the yellow line, the positions were now set. Apart from a few guys who were losing their legs on the steep hill, it was impossible to pass anyone. We reached the top of the hill as a compact bunch. I thought: “Three kilometers left. Flat. Windy. Translation: bunch sprint. Conclusion: I’m stuck, nothing I can do now, no more opportunity at this stage…” I crossed the line in 26th position.

What about my five-guys-to-watch? Although one of them did not finish (maybe the same equipment challenge as Rod and Lorne?), the other four finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. At least I was watching the right guys!! Wheels of Bloor swept the podium. Kudos to them.

That’s it, my road racing campaign for 2012 has come to an end. Although I didn’t bring back the results I had trained for, I had lots of fun fighting out there with my teammates. My focus in now switching to preparing my cyclocross season. I will be chasing podiums in the fall!!!

Photo Credit: Peter Kraiker, Studio f-Stop

A Wild Ride… for a good cause

Written by Claire Humphrey and Bevin Reith*, LapDogs Cycling Club Members.

From the beginner mountain biker [Claire]:

It seems like everyone I know has a favourite charity event: the YMCA Relay for Strong Kids, the Friends for Life Bike Rally, WWF’s CN Tower Climb. I’ve always liked these events: they raise a lot of money for great causes, while also providing fun and fitness for the participants. But for years I limited my own role to handing out donations to my office buddies, cheering them on from the safety of my desk chair.

The turning point came when my friend, Jenn McCaw, began planning the inaugural Wild Ride for the Lung Association. “I’m thinking I should hold a mountain bike race,” she said. “You guys will ride, right?” She was looking right at me, and she’s my best friend in the world, so I stammered, “Sure, I guess.” And once the words were out of my mouth, there was no backing out.

Sure, I was reasonably fit, but I had no idea whether running, boxing or climbing could prepare me for a bike race, especially when I hadn’t touched my bike in about a decade. Bevin and I made sure to get out on the trails as early as we could that spring, but family events and business trips made it hard to log much distance. And I’m not what you’d call a naturally gifted rider. By the time the race rolled around, I still didn’t feel ready. What if I fell off my bike in front of everyone? What if I came in last, very last, hours behind everyone else?

…So what?

It was time to swallow my pride. I knew I wasn’t going to win that race. Heck, it might be a challenge to finish. But that wasn’t the point.

What was? Well, the Lung Association, for one thing. My grandfather died of emphysema. My mother suffers from asthma, and as it turns out, so do I. I had lots of motivation to raise money—so much that I ended up #1 fundraiser last year and #2 this year.

More than the fundraising, though, the point of an event like this is community. Everyone who comes out to a charity race is there to help others. The volunteers are there to help the event run smoothly, the participants are there to help the cause and the spectators are there to cheer on the participants.

So what happens when you come in at the back of the pack in a race like this? Your friend’s mom gives you the signal to dismount. Your sister-in-law is there clapping for you at the finish line. You get handed an electrolyte drink by your husband who finished an hour ahead of you. Your friend gives you a big hug and doesn’t even care that you’re all sweaty.

No one cares about your time. They’re just happy to see you.

There are a lot of ways to race. For the win. For your personal best. For heart, for the cure, or just for fun. Never raced before? Join me at next year’s Wild Ride, where I’ll be proudly bringing up the rear once again.

From the engineer [Bevin]:

Claire beat her last year’s time by 1 minute – with 2 stitches in her scalp after an out of control cyclist crashed into her 3 days before the race.

Our four person mixed team ‘The Fast and The Curious’ topped the podium in a field of one for gold medals all around.

111 folks participated in the event which is a 46% increase over last year.

Check out this great article and video – there is a split second of me at the 19s mark J.

Most importantly, the Wild Ride increased their stature in the 2nd year and may have chip timing next year. The Lung Association matched last year’s fundraising of 15K in this tight economy and have some valuable lessons learned to apply for next year. Here’s hoping it won’t conflict with MTB fest in 2013 and we can send a mixed LapDog Cycling Club squad to give everyone some more exposure.

* Bevin is also a member of the 2012 Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team

Cannondale Flash Ultimate, a Racer’s choice.

Written by Mark Brusso, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Team Director and Racer.

Since joining the LapDogs Cycling Club back in the spring of 2008 I have been fortunate to be introduced to Cannondale bicycles through Duke’s Cycle . I credit Michael Cranwell for getting me hooked from the start as I noticed he and other racers back in the race team’s early days were racing on them.

Cannondale is my brand, and for a reason. They design with the rider, and function in mind.

When other bike manufacturers are spending time putting gimmicky twists, curves and non functional aesthetic features into bike design, Cannondale is innovating and improving on already fantastic technology. They are constantly refining and improving their processes. They are making bikes stiffer, lighter, stronger, and more efficient. Their technology and innovation is truly light years ahead of other bike manufacturers. Their frame designs are minimalist, but are also some of the most beautiful looking frames in the industry.

My review is on the new Flash 29er Ultimate , which I am currently racing for the 2012 Season.

The Flash 29er Ultimate is a pure race bike, and it is meant to be ridden hard and pushed to the limit.

This year, the Ultimate build features some of the absolute best of the best components available on the market. A full SRAM XX drivetrain including the XX World Cup edition brakes and ENVE Composites wheels and bar. SRAM XX just works, plain and simple, and it works with a bang. The shifting is very aggressive and fast. SRAM is known for this, and the XX is no exception, as both the front and rear derailleurs are equipped with very powerful springs, so shifting is always crisp and precise. The ENVE wheels are super stiff, and roll incredibly well, and look great paired with the white DT Swiss Aerolite spokes. I’ve always loved the DT swiss hubs as they are extremely smooth and easily serviced. The 240 hub on the rear wheel is a workhorse, and I know from experience in racing the 190s from my Flash 26′er, that the star ratchet design is bomb proof. It was nice to have the new Racing Ralph 425 HS tires spec’d on this bike, as they are new, and an improvement on the old Racing Ralph design. As usual, the Racing Ralph is one of the best race tires out there, and is known for it’s smooth rolling resistance, and incredible grip due to the EVO rubber compound technology found in the tires.

Another amazing component of this bike is the S.A.V.E seatpost which is critical in this hardtail’s setup. The deflection of the S.A.V.E is absolutely amazing and is one of the best features on the bike. The S.A.V.E really smooths out the ride, and it’s benefit can only be realized when you jump on a Flash paired with one. It is like having a little bit of suspension on the rear of the bike, without paying the price for weight, and the inefficiency of a soft tail on climbs.

Last but not least, the Lefty Fork . Not just any any Lefty – The Lefty Carbon 29er XLR. The Lefty, in my opinion really is the benchmark of suspension in the bike world. My first two mountain bikes had conventional suspension, and when I purchased my first Cannondale in 2009 (A Scalpel Team), my eyes were opened to a whole new world of what suspension can do. The Lefty is point and shoot.. A punchy climb full of roots? Aim your steering uphill right at those roots, and the Lefty will eat them for breakfast. It will handle corners and descents and washboard double track better than anything out there. The only way to understand it, is to try one and see for yourself. The Ultimate this year comes with a remote lockout which is essential to maximize your climbing efficiency. I use mine all the time, and it is a great feature.

The Ultimate 29′er gets 6 out of 5 stars because it exceeded all my expectations. When I decided to enter the world of 29 inch wheels I was glad I made my decision in choosing this bike.

LapDogs @ CHIN… Indy meets Rollerball!

Written by Rick Froner, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Team Director and Racer.

For the first time this season, the M2 team had a chance to race with the Elite 3 senior men, and thereby bolstering our team with youthful legs. Gio was the lone entrant from the LapDogs in the E3 category, and perhaps our best bet at a win or podium, as this race normally comes down to a bunch sprint. Edmond, Roderick, Michael Bandurchin, Mark Besednik and myself were the entrants for the M2 category. Also on the line were the dreaded Juniors, a rag tag bunch of miscreants with no sense of decorum or self preservation. We would have to keep a sharp eye out for these young punks.

For those of you not familiar with the CHIN race course, it is best described as an amalgam of Toronto Indy meets Rollerball. The 1 mile course consists of no fewer than 8 corners, some wide sweepers, while others are very tight including the chicane located directly after the start finish line.

We were expected to complete 45 minutes of racing before being given the 3 laps to go directive. The plan, simple, stay near the front and attempt to have a presence in any break that went away. IF it came down to a bunch sprint, the lead-out train was to make its appearance. Edmund, then Roderick, then me and lastly Gio, the Cavendish of the group. Sounds easy right? Wrong.

Right off the gun, the pace was quick. I attempted to make the first move off the front and was quickly joined by wily veteran Elgar Vaivars. We managed to open a small gap and held it for just over a lap, but the peleton would have none of it. More attacks were made by various other teams, with Roderick and Edmond in the mix with numerous break attempts. Michael spent the first half of the race learning the nuances of the corners, and the sketchy riders before moving up the field and joining the mayhem up front. Gio meanwhile conserved energy for the sprint by staying in the top 15 riders and keeping his nose clean. Mark, unfortunately, had some problems with his injured knee and was forced to abandon three quarters thru the event.

It was at this point that a small break of two riders somehow rode off the front of the field without one of us present. With some big efforts from Roderick, Edmond, Michael and myself we tried to pull them back, but to no avail. With 3 laps to go it was clear that the break would stick and we were sprinting for 3rd. With two laps to go, Edmond unleashed a viscous attack, stringing out the field to make it more safe for our lead-out train. The elbows were flying and the pack was on the limit. Roderick and myself got separated at this point due to the crashes and near misses that ensued. I managed to pick up Gio with one lap to go and tried to haul him up to the front for the final gallop. All was going well until two riders directly in front of us decided that they wanted to lay down on the pavement for a rest on the back straight. Luckily, we both just managed to make it thru the blood and tears and crossed the line in the top 15 in the sprint. Edmond, Roderick and Michael also all made it thru the final lap carnage unscathed.

Although we did not manage to make the winning move, or feature prominently in the bunch sprint, it was a victory of sorts, given that we all survived with our skin still intact.

Good job lads!

Ours Team’s Results:

Master 3 Men
Colin Mcdarmont – 13th
David Chong – 16th
Mark Montgomery – 21st

Elite 4 Men
Mark Van Doormaal – 6th

Elite 3 Men
Gio Piccollotto – 8th

Master 2 Men
Rick Froner – 7th
Michael Bandurchin – 15th
Edmond Mellina – 17th
Roderick Grant – 22nd

Elite 1-2 Men
Christopher Bradbury – DNF